Sales executive Chris Swain is preparing to tackle his third Asda Foundation Burnley 10K – and this year he will be on the start line for a very special reason.
Chris will be running for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in memory of his son, Thomas, who was born at 23 weeks in February 2016 and died aged just 10 months.
Thomas was born in Burnley General Hospital and cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Chris, 37, who lives in Burnley, said: “All was going well until at five-weeks-old Thomas developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious bowel condition that mostly effects premature babies.
“Thomas was treated with antibiotics, but it was felt that he would be better cared for by the fantastic staff at the neonatal intensive care unit in Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, as they have a surgical unit attached to them in case Thomas required surgery.”
It was at this point that Ronald McDonald House was able to help Chris and his wife, Jolene.
Chris said: “As Burnley is around 40 miles from Manchester it would mean a long commute both morning and evening for my wife to see Thomas in hospital. Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home, so that parents of children in hospital can stay close to their loved ones and be there for them while they are undergoing treatment.
“As having a child in hospital is a very worrying experience, having the house so near to the hospital takes some of that worry away, knowing you are literally minutes from your child and you can be on hand to be there for them not only day to day, but in the event of any emergency that might occur.”
Thomas underwent bowel surgery from which he recovered well, although he continued to suffer from acid reflux. Thomas was five-month-old when Chris and Jolene finally got to take him home. Two months later he was back in hospital having again developed NEC.
Chris said: “Our brave baby boy made it home again and we started to enjoy life together as a family. In December Thomas needed to have a routine planned operation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool to close a PDA in his heart. This type of operation is very common in premature babies and Thomas recovered well at home. A few days later however, Thomas suffered a servere reflux episode which led to complications. Following treatment at Alder Hey he sadly passed at 10-months-old.
“I am dedicating my fundraising in memory of Thomas by supporting Ronald McDonald House so that more families like my own can spend more precious time with their loved ones.
“The house not only provides a safe place for people to stay, but also somewhere where they can talk to other families going through similar things. The staff are also so supportive and they help to keep a smile on people’s faces and a sense belonging, often for people who are staying miles away from family and home.
“Without our little boy we would not have realised what an amazing charity they are and we are lucky they were there to help us for as long as was needed when Thomas was poorly.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities is an independent charity which provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation and support to families at specialist children’s hospitals across the UK, enabling families to stay close to their child and maintain a degree of normal family life for as long as they need it.
Chris’s fundraising can be supported at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chris-swain6